How the Cardinals Can Adjust After Injury to Adam Wainwright

The St. Louis Cardinals have been dealt a blow to its rotation, as probable Opening Day starter Adam Wainwright will miss the start of the 2023 season due to a groin injury. Luckily for the Cardinals, an arm who’s pitched well for St. Louis this spring should be able to slot in for Wainwright.

Related: Six More Thoughts on the 2023 World Baseball Classic

A Look at Wainwright

Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright did have some miscues for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, as he yielded runs in the early goings in each of his two starts. But, “Uncle Charlie” did fine for the runner-ups of the WBC in total. Across eight innings, Wainwright walked two batters, struck out five, and posted a 2.25 ERA. Opposing batters hit .294 off of Wainwright in the tournament.

Wainwright’s stuff looked fine in the tournament, despite limited velocity. The right-hander thrives off of his knee-buckling curveball, which can still fool hitters as he enters his age-41 campaign.

Wainwright, who sits just five wins away from 200 in his career, will not be available to start the 2023 campaign. The Cardinals righty suffered a groin injury in the weight room after competing in the WBC semifinal vs Cuba. Wainwright’s groin is set to keep him out for at least a few weeks.

A Look at Rotation Options

As things stand right now, here’s how the Cardinals rotation could shake out come Opening Day:

  1. LHP Jordan Montgomery
  2. RHP Miles Mikolas
  3. RHP Jack Flaherty
  4. LHP Steven Matz
  5. RHP Jake Woodford

One has to assume that Jake Woodford will step in for the injured Wainwright. The 26-year-old has pitched well this spring, as Woodford currently owns the fifth-best Spring Training ERA (2.04) among qualified pitchers in baseball. Not to mention, Woodford has struck out 18 batters over 17.2 IP.

Traditionally a pitch-to-contact arm with a very good slurve, Woodford was set to be return to the bullpen in 2023 one year after he recorded a 2.23 ERA over 48.1 IP with the Cardinals. Now, he’s set to jump into the St. Louis rotation.

The Cards will need Woodford to be a reliable arm in what is a very talented rotation, albeit one with questions surrounding it. For one, what will the Cardinals get out of Steven Matz. After a solid 2021 with the Blue Jays, Matz struggled in his first season in St. Louis. He’s pitched well in the spring, but the Cardinals will need regular season results.

Then, there’s Jack Flaherty. Flaherty was one of the league’s best pitchers in 2018 & 2019, but has struggled to stay healthy over the past two seasons. If the Flaherty of hold can return, he could be a true difference-maker for a group looking to win its second straight NL Central title.

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